Monday night miscellany

A few spare thoughts from a day off work:

Sailors didn’t like this. In the hard, lash-and-sodomy-strewn life at sea, rum was one of their few pleasures – indeed, it was part of their regular compensation. Eventually, a test was discovered to see whether the rum had been excessively watered down: drop some gunpowder (a fourth item in plentiful supply on British men-of-war) into the rum, take it out, and try to light it on fire. If the gunpowder won’t burn, the rum is more than around 43 percent water. If it burns, the rum had been “proved” or was “100 degrees proof.” If it didn’t, it was “under proof.” So 80-proof spirits (like the mostly full bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label in my pantry), while quite strong enough for me, might have started a mutiny on board a 40-gun frigate.